SBA wins Review Board hearing
October 5, 2007
In the Student Assembly Review Board hearing of Kennedy-Shaffer v. Student Bar Association, the Review Board ruled 5-2 in favor of the SBA. The petitioners of the case, graduate student Alan Kennedy-Shaffer ’09 and Sen. Joe Luppino-Esposito ’08, argued in favor of forcing the graduate schools to elect their senators rather than appoint them, which is the current practice. The SBA was represented by President Sarah Fulton ’08.
p. The basis of the case revolved around the interpretation of the Student Assembly Constitution — specifically Article 1, Section 1, Clause 2, which states,“The Senate shall be composed of members chosen in election every year by the students of the College. There shall be 16 Undergraduate Senators chosen, four per Class, by the members of that Social Class. There shall be six Senators from the Graduate Schools, apportioned among the Schools as the Graduate Council shall designate, provided every School is represented by at least one Senator.”
p. Although the constitution seems clear about senate elections in Article 1, a discrepancy arises in the wording of Article 5: “Graduate Senators shall be sent, and Graduate School Officers chosen, as the Graduate Council shall designate, provided that Senators and Officers are selected no later than the last Tuesday of the following September.”
p. The case revolved around whether the words “sent” and “chosen” equated to “elected” and whether Article 5 negates Article 1.
p. The petitioners highlighted the explicit mentioning of the election of senators in Article 1 as a key point of their argument and cited that although the word “election” is not in Article 5, Section 3, Clause 4, the specific clause is under Section 3, titled “Senatorial, Class and School Officer Elections.” The petitioners included the pertaining sections of the SA constitution in a power point presentation that displayed “Elected = Chosen” and “Elected = Sent” at the top of the screen.
p. “It [Clause 4] would have been in something else to indicate that they did not intend for elections,” Luppino-Esposito said. “The section is on elections.”
p. “All we are asking is that the senators be elected,” Kennedy-Shaffer said.
p. The respondent argued that Article 5 has more direct intent than Article 1.
p. “Constitutions start broad and then narrow to define,” Fulton said.
p. The defense also cited that the word “election” appears in the first three clauses of Article 5, Section 3, but not in Clause 4. For example, Clause 1 reads, “Senators and Undergraduate Class Officers, excluding freshman Senators and Officers, shall be elected in the General Election.”
p. The protection of graduate school autonomy was also addressed. “When the constitution was written it was understood that the graduate schools are different, unique bodies,” Fulton said. “We should have the opportunity to determine the best way to [chose senators] ourselves.”
p. “[The electing of senators] does not affect autonomy at all,” Luppino-Esposito said.
p. The respondent also brought up Kennedy-Shaffer’s history with law school politics.
p. “He [Kennedy-Shaffer] is the only one who has been removed in an election in the history of the law school,” Fulton said.